Dex is a cyberpunk RPG adventure game with platforming elements that tries to combine lots of cool things but fails at integrating everything into a compelling package. Shoddy combat, frustrating hacking minigame that comprise a big chunk of this universe, weird storytelling set in an unpleasant setting didn't help me get into it enough to keep pushing past everything that frustrated me, so I gave up quite quickly.

I really wish Dex had tried to focus more on one thing, either the platforming, the hacking, the melee fighting or the shooting could've been great mechanics if used in a less crowded space, but as it is, you fumble around with a ton of buttons used for a bunch of things. There are shortcuts for quick items, melee attacks, getting a weapon ready and dodge rolling, jumping and blocking, and so forth. This makes the core gameplay a bit confusing as even after playing for a while I was still fumbling around with the buttons. Otherwise, the game is set in a cyberpunk world where you run and jump around, talking to NPCs and completing quests, fighting enemies along the way.

There are RPG elements that can be used to upgrade your character in a few different ways, although it's a bit weird how basically everything seems to be worth it. Besides choosing between melee and ranged fighting, I had the impression that you could take every other skill and wring some usefulness out of them. Lockpicking is useful to get access into certain areas - which I'm not sure if you can get in otherwise, charisma is apparently used to talk to NPCs but I never saw any conversation have meaningful resolution, so it was a bit off.

Fighting isn't really fun in Dex, you flail around with melee strikes and block or dodge enemy attacks, but it's not very satisfying since everything can take so much damage and you're never sure when to hit or when to block. Using firearms is even worse since you have to take them out during a long-ish animation and shooting doesn't seem to be doing that much damage either. You can also die from fall damage, poison and electricity in a very quick, no-invincibility-frames style way and then even if you hit 'retry' the game throws you back at some vague point in the past.

The hacking is really bad also, you fly around in cyberspace with a little ship and this plays like a dual stick shooter. There are tons of enemies and obstacles around even on the first challenges and you lose health like crazy. A little detail that irked me was how there is no feedback when you get hit, no sound or effect or anything. When you die in cyberspace, you take real damage to your character and then you either have to heal your cyber-health with items or find a station for that. It takes forever to go back and forth between these places and the machine you want to hack, even if the game tries to be generous with its fast travel system.

I really didn't have fun playing Dex, sadly. I kept dying in cyberspace when I needed - or wanted to, I'm not sure if it was optional, I had a bunch of quests and the quest logs weren't really directing me anywhere useful - to hack a thing and when I finally managed to get it, after a long walk to get my cyber-health healed, I died to some poison that just drained my life faster than I could react, the 'Retry' option sent me back to before I had hacked the thing and before I had healed my focus, and that was it for me, I really couldn't care doing that all over again.

AuthorJérémie Tessier